The Manitoba government announced today that they will be expanding their commitment to the First Nations Policing Program by an additional investment of $2.6 million over the next three years.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says they've long advocated for consistent, long-term funding that supports dedicated, responsible and culturally relevant policing to all indigenous communities across the province. He explains they work closely with the federal government in a cost-shared relationship, with the provincial government contributing 48% and the federal 52%.
"This funding announcement will include a 2.75% annual increase to address inflation but will also add enough money to support four additional members for the police service," said Cullen during today's press conference.
In all, Manitoba's total investment in First Nations policing will increase to more than $15 million annually by 2022-23.
Regional Chief Kevin Hart says this morning's investment announcement was a welcome one as it contributes to the safety of First Nations children and women, citing the report on missing and murders indigenous women and girls. Hart adds they will continue working to ensure all 64 First Nations here in Manitoba have access to resources for proper safety and policing in their communities.
In addition to the operating funds, the province has also announced that $44,000 from their Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund will be provided to the Manitoba First Nations Police Services (MFNPS) for specialized equipment to assist in keeping officers safe. The Forfeiture Fund takes takes funds from criminal activity, which are then reinvested to provide resources for public safety, including:
• compensating victims of the unlawful activity that led to the forfeiture of the property;
• providing funding to the Victims’ Assistance Fund;
• promoting safer communities by investing in specialized equipment/training for law enforcement agencies; and
• promoting safer communities by providing funding to law enforcement agencies for community initiatives.
"This support will help keep our officers safer through the purchase of new advanced and state-of-the-art equipment, and enable us to secure four new officers who will be working toward combatting the increase of illegal drugs, guns and gangs in communities," says MFNPS Acting Chief Bruno Rossi of the $44,000 from the Forfeiture Fund. "We thank our funding partners for their continued support and our communities in supporting First Nations policing."
Back in 2017, Rossi says a state of emergency was announced against a drug crisis within First Nations communities. He says this state of emergency is still active and MFNPS is working hard to take drugs and guns off the streets.